December Newsletter: Our Seed Conference Takeaways, Hybrid Data, & a Holiday Recipe

Visit to Chicago: America’s Largest Seed Conference 

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) had their annual meeting in Chicago December 5-9. This is America’s largest seed industry conference and seed expo.  Every year, there are more than 4,000 attendees representing the U.S. seed industry and overseas seed companies.

During the week there are events targeted to specific needs. There are scientific presentations with the latest topics of interest to the industry, trade group meetings, and seed expo exhibitors showcasing products and services for the seed industry.  There are social events and networking opportunities to make connections to explore new opportunities for business and meetings with company officials.

This year one of the topics was how to communicate with the public.  Surveys conducted with consumers on food preferences and innovations have shown a degree of distrust on the message communicated by corporate communication media.  As a new strategy of communication, in the future breeders should show the work they do to develop new seed products and farmers should talk about how they farm and what they do. This will bring a degree of trust.  The urgency of this is how to bring new technological advances to help produce more food to feed an ever increasing population.


What’s going on with developing new specialty traits? 

Major seed companies are considering the use of gene editing as a new powerful tool to create new traits.  Other researchers are looking at genetic studies of existing germplasm collections and genome wide association mapping to see if they can track down gene/trait correlations.

Advances in genetics obtained by using genomics and/or genome manipulation have gotten the attention of crop researchers in the public and private sector.  While large companies have the resources to invest in long term research that may or may not result in commercially viable products; small companies have relied on government research investment to obtain access to new technological advances to incorporate into their product development.

 In the last few years, small companies have played a very important role in supporting local and regional food systems with specialty products focused on nutritive value and health promoting products. These activities help the farmers to play a more active role in providing healthy products to customers at the same time that they help in their own profitability and sustainability on the farm.  As new traits with potential to improve grain composition are found and are made available for breeding, GEI will actively pursue the development of seed products with these new traits.

Yield vs Quality: High carotene kernel nutritional package
Every year farmers have to make decisions about what crop to plant and what hybrid or variety to choose.  For some, the decision is simple: If one is in a rotation of corn and beans, it’s either one or the other.  Choosing the hybrid or variety to plant might take more thought.  In all this process, the common thought is that corn and beans are the preferred rotation and there is not much else to consider.
However, there is much more to be considered.  If you raise the crop to feed on the farm or if you are looking for a premium on the grain to sell for food, then yield and quality matters and total income per acre needs a new calculation.  There are also other considerations about how to maintain the grain qualities for maximum benefits.  Corn with nutritional value usually has a repackaging of the kernel components. To illustrate this point, one can compare the nutritional package of normal corn (GEI 9700, GEI 9717) vs. the nutritional package of high carotene corn (GEI 2318).
The high carotenoid hybrid, GEI 2318, has a higher nutritional package for % protein and % of oil than the normal hybrids shown (17.84 vs. 11.79 and 13.90).  Additionally, GEI 2318 has a high content of pro vitamin A and a high level of zeaxanthin. The nutritional value of this corn makes it a good choice for food or feed.

High Anthocyanin Nutritional Package
GEI 411C, the blueberry of corn, is a hybrid used specifically for food.  GEI 411C, our high anthocyanin corn, is a very high yielding hybrid compared to the other blue corn hybrids in the market.  The pigment is a mixture of purple and red.  Because of the high concentration of pigment it tends to have a deeper color than straight blue, however, when mixed with regular flour, like for making cornbread, the end product is blue.

NIR results for GEI hybrids grown in 2016: 
Why is this important
The data obtained by the NIR (Near Infrared Reflectance spectroscopy) method shows the chemical and physical properties of importance of the grain of corn hybrids planted in 2016. The data on the chemical characteristics of the grain can be used to select hybrids for specific uses for food or feed formulations. The physical properties can be used to select hybrids for dry milling and for the masa industry.  Hybrids with high yield of starch would also be good candidates for the ethanol industry.  The data should be used in conjunction with the yield and agronomic characteristics of the hybrids.

 Recipe: Christmas Corn Pudding

Loaded with good flavor, nutrition, and perfect for the holidays!

1 stick butter

1 cup sour cream

1 can corn with liquid

1 can cream style corn

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (after seeing the list of ingredients on the box of the muffin mix, I decided to use a mixture of the dry ingredients from the cornbread recipe below.  Using flour of GEI 2318 (high carotene, pictured above), GEI 411C (high anthocyanin) or GEI 101 lys (high quality protein) makes this recipe nutritious.

I also added cut up green onions. Mix all together, pour into 9” greased square pyrex.  Bake @ 375° for 45 minutes or till done.

Recipe: Cornbread

The perfect side dish, and nutritious too.

1 cup flour

¾ cup corn flour

¼ cup sugar

¾ tsp. salt

3 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

¼ cup oil

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix all together.  Pour into greased 9” square pyrex.  Bake @ 400° for 25 minutes.

Top Photo: High lysine (GEI 101 lys) corn muffins, Bottom Photo: High anthocyanin (GEI 411C) corn muffins.

GEI Seed Sales
Phone: 515-865-8834